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tv   This Week in Defense  CBS  April 24, 2011 11:00am-11:30am EDT

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are all digitally connected to each other. and ultimately connected to you. at kaiser permanente, we believe that if knowledge is power, shared knowledge is even more powerful. kaiser permanente. thrive. next on "this week in defense news," a round -- our roundtable discusses president obama's $400 billion in national security budget problems.
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happy easter and welcome to "this week in defense news." i'm vago muradian. deficit reduction is the hottest topic in washington nowadays and president obama has offered his plan to cut federal spending, including taking $400 billion from national security through 2023, the majority of which would come from the pentagon. as soon as the president made his announcement, defense secretary gates made his own statement, that cuts that large on top of $400 billion already cut would mean hard decisions about what capabilities and missions the nation would have to forego in the future. what will these new cuts mean, what's next for america's three military operations and who's going to replace gates and join chiefs chairman admirable mike mullen when they step down there year. i'm joined by rick mays, mcí kenzie eagleton of the heritage founs, john berry, national
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news national security correspondent. lady and gentlemen, welcome to the show. so, todd, let me start with you. the president has put this figure out of $400 billion in national security cuts. how serious of a cut is it and is that going to lead to a cutback in capabilities as gates suggests? >> well, i think, you know, in terms of a cut, it's relatively straightforward to do it technically because we're cutting $400 billion over 12 years off a budget that was already projected to increase slightly over that time. so basically if you held a defense budget so it only grew with inflation over the next 12 years, that would basically give you the $400 billion in savings. but with that said, politically it's going to be very challenging to do because you're going to have to make trades between some difficult areas in the budget, pay and benefits, particularly healthcare costs are growing faster than inflation, if they're allowed to continue growing faster, they're going to start to crowd out for
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modernization and weapons systems and improve the forestructure today. >> which is the place to get money, which is modernization programs. >> exactly. >> isn't this a great opportunity for the department to dig down and use this as an excuse to make the tough decisions? >> it's too much time. they were told you had to save $400 and you had to do it in two yearses, it would be a bigger effort looking at rolls and missions. but because the time period is stretched out so long, over 12 years, it's hard to get them to focus. they always cut a little bit in the ow years and you never get to the out years, i don't see it as being a big effort. >> if we look at the 2011-12 efficiency, what we saw is the goal of $100 billion over five years. gates has already locked off $30 billion of that which has to go back into operating costs and personnel costs which had risen much higher than expected. what you find with efficiencies, you can't generate that much because the cost of doing everything in the department way outpaces inflation. a hard freeze on the defense
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budget will cut into core capabilities. this could be up to a 10% base forgs reductions. we're talking about ground forces smaller than they were in the 1990s, these are the possibilities on the table. >> but do they have to get to that step? isn't there a way to engineer your way through this, john? >> i think he is right what they'll do but the sensible way to do is is look at personnel costs and the way to do that is look at the balance between active duty and reserve forces. admirable mullin talked about that. you don't need the number of active duty ready to go forces that we actually have now, already the air force prancely relies on re -- principally relies on the reserves. that level will probably not be
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done, cut the costs getting people out of the active force and into the reserves and they're much, much cheaper. and the truth is that the ideas that we have to have a large standing army ready to go at a moment's notice is a legacy of the cold war, is a legacy of 50 years which is likely an aberration in the history of this republic. much more likely, much more historic is the citizen soldier and that leads you to the reserves. >> mcí kenzie. >> politically we need to consider all of these cuts as well. you have a lame-duck secretary of defense. everybody knows this, given 24 hours notice of these cuts having no input from the white house, combine that with the fact of the rules of emissions will continue into his successor's tenure and next year is an election year, this is all going to play into this decision. >> speaking of this politically, rick, how is this going to play out up on the hill? >> well, the view of it is obama offered this because he needs to say something in order to
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provide an administration option on the debt ceiling debate and we don't cut -- if obama doesn't promise some kind of cuts in federal spending, then we're not going to be able to increase the debt ceiling. so this is really a bit of a straw man, it's not going to be that high if they did it. more likely i think it's an excuse to not do anything this year. if they can get beyond july and they manage to increase the debt ceiling somehow, then any serious cuts in defense could be put off for a year or two. >> is there a support? republicans were saying at first everything is on the table and now it's national security has to be shielded, the house didn't make particularly dramatic cuts, is that going to fly in the senate? >> they say that everything is on the table, but seriously, the only gop reductions has been so far is a 10% reduction in the printing costs at the pentagon. you can say it's on the table and then say, oh, we looked at it, you can't cut it. it's a more serious bipartisan effort, but still not enough votes to pass. >> if you look at the ryan
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proposal too for reducing the deficit, he implicitly endorsed obama's fy '12 budget proposal for the pentagon. his funding levels for d.o.d. match the president's exactly out into the future. what the president did is he then came out after that with his own deficit reduction proposal and then he cut from his previous projection from just a few months ago. so i think, you know, in terms of the debate on the hill, i think we've kind of bounded the extremes here with what, you know, the ryan's proposal and the president's fy '12 proposal spends and then coming out with this deficit reduction package. >> vago, the will is there to cut, if you look at the funding levels, $19 billion below president obama's request, he added to the $17 billion which 13 will be impacted in the '12 pass. you're looking at going in maybe $20, $25 from the president's level for '12, reduced buying power across the department.
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i mean, you could easily see defense get swept up into some grand bargain for the debt ceiling. remember, there are going to be two debt ceiling votes between now and the presidential election. if it's not cut big enough this time, it certainly will be the next time. >> and programs then will be the easiest thing to target which are already found, the 95 top programs are already $64 billion over budget then. >> i think the low-hanging fruit in terms of cutting weapons systems, that's already been taken, you have to start now cutting into things that really matter to the department, programs that aren't necessarily performing poorly or programs that are legitimately needed. so, you know, the smart way to do this is to step back and say, okay, are we at a point where we can change our strategy where we can say, you know what, there are certain missions that we're just going to be willing to accept more risk, we're not going to do these things in the future. >> if they cut this year, it'll only be a top line cut and you won't know where it's cut at. >> in the 30 or so seconds we've got left in this segment, john, if you're going to do a rolls
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and view, what are the capabilities you shield and what do you take away? >> 30 seconds? if you're going to do rolls and missions review which is thoughtful, you need to do it outside the pentagon because the last year in the missions review, you'll rather general mcí peak made a bid for the air force to get rid of everybody's roll. that didn't go too well. it needs to be an outside commission and how it's headed in the last quarter of defense review. >> and would involve far greater tradeoffs? >> yes, it could. i mean, i'd rather -- i'm with mcí kenzie, it is likely at the end of this budget process you're going to be looking at much more than a $400 billion cut. we're talking about a billion? >> a trillion. >> a trillion. that adds up after time. i think likely the pentagon is going to face much bigger cuts than that over the next decade. >> stay tuned for moreoblems.
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welcome back. before we get to libya, iraq and afghanistan, rick, let me ask you, what's the prospect for 2012 budget given 2011 has been a really, really rough ride? >> i don't see how you can pass any budget through the senate on doing anything. i think that the gridlock is enormous, i think that's the same reason why you will have trouble doing a rolls and commission report too because you just can't ignore the politics of the opportunity that republicans want to take the senate and now that boggs everything down that they do.
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>> so basically the 2012 election cycle clouds out anything that we want to do on the 2012 budget? >> i think so, yeah. >> john, let's go to the idea of libya, our allies, britain, france, italy are now starting to dispatch advisors to help the rebels while nato continues to complain that there aren't enough war planes to do the job. what's next? does the united states get pulled into this beyond supplying some gear? >> the immediate problem is misurata, how do you deal with misurata. it's not turning out to be a second sarevo and it's getting worse clearly. air power is now saying, oh, what do we do now, do we have to send special forces in, what are we going to do. the u.s.' position, as i understand it is we will help somebody else, but we don't want to send ground forces ourselves. we say to misurata what do we do then? and the problem with the situation we have is that both
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president obama and prime minister cameron and president sarkozy have set a voting goal which is regime change, but willing to put out the means necessary to do it which means ground troops and that's going to be increasingly apparent and it's going to be an increasing problem. >> is this an important point to bear in mind as we make our own defense cuts that pretty much anything really that involves heavy lifting involves the united states and ultimately if we make cuts we can't really rely on allies like britain and france who have a very, very tough time doing such a small operation on their doorstep? >> yes. >> absolutely. no doubt about it. when the u.s. says nato is in charge, what we mean is the u.s. is charge because we're in charge of nato. we're the long pole in the tent of that alliance and we lean on it. we all thought afghanistan was going to be the defining moment for the nato alliance. >> you look also at the initial days of the conflict in libya and, you know, we did almost all of the work. we were the ones who fired some 200 tomahawk cruise missiles to
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go in and knock out air defenses and crater runways and we're flying b-2 bombers in there, and, you know, our nato allies were doing relatively little at the time because they just didn't have the capability to knock down the door like we have. >> it's really easy to see a situation where the u.s. marines and somehow if something goes wrong with the advisors that have come from other countries and we need to go rescue them somehow that that's going to be a mission that's going to fault us because we have the force in the area and it's just -- it won't be what you want to do, but you'll have no option but to do it when the time comes. >> do we end up -- obviously we're not there yet, but one of the things that gates continuously keeps saying and the administration keeps saying to iraq is we were supposed to withdraw by the end of the year is, no, seriously, we can stay. he is repeatedly pretty much offering to stay to guarantee security and make this huge american investment not go down the drain. what does that do if we end up staying there and what circumstance do we stay there and how long do we stay there?
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>> the department senior leadership is pretty united, including the civilian and brass that 10,000 to 20,000 u.s. forces staying in iraq as a flank against iran is ideal at this point. there are challenges that there's no political will and the iraqi -- in the iraqi government now to do that. with the middle east turmoil, with increasing iranian influence and meddling, i'm not sure how we're going to square that circle. >> we're begging them and inviting us to say -- it's a very unusual situation. >> it is an unusual situation. >> and back to the budget question here, you know, right now the fy '12 budget request, the money they put in there for iraq assume all of our troops are gone by january 1st of 2012. that leaves just $11 billion in funding for iraq. if we're talking about a 10,000 to 20,000 troop presence there, it could be $10 to $20 billion more than that and that makes the whole budget debate that more difficult. >> correct. from a money standpoint that was supposed to be savings or cost avoidance, if you will, in the
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modern parliament. let's talk briefly about afghanistan. the president last week again reiterated that the july pullout would not be a token pullout, that it will be significant. what is he talking about in terms of the pullout, at the same time where the commander there, general petraeus is saying gains have been substantial but still very fragile? >> the number has not yet been decided by general petraeus and unlike gates' successor, this is the most closely held secret in washington. right now under review is one combat battalion and logistics forces but nothing below 90,000 forces from the 100 roughly u.s. military personnel on the ground. the tension is that the white house doesn't see that as significant and so we're going to see or hear about the clash behind closed doors. >> again, you see the parallel with libya which is in this case, as in libya, the president ordered a rather expansive end which was to defeat the taliban and bring some coherent nation
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in afghanistan, and decline to agree to the means necessary. the number of troops that was sent in the end was roughly speaking half of what general mcchrystal originally wanted. that was harshed up at the time which is the case. so what you have is a troop densely enough in afghanistan which is having some affect in the areas where it is, but simply aren't enough troops to expand throughout the entire country. the taliban is now responding by do nasty things in the west. we want to put out more troops. i mean, this doesn't compute in terms of -- it may be necessary, but it may be what the president is determined and the white house is determined to do, but it doesn't calculate in the mission. >> get out of this thing because ultimately it's going to be pointless anyway. >> there's a political call from obama's party and maybe not from the republicans. it's one of those divides, and, again, you get stuck in a political election-year debate that mucks up whatever it is you're trying to do that might be the smart thing.
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>> more with our roundtable coming oblems
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we're back with rick mays of army times, john perry of newsweek, mcí kenzie eagleon of the heritage foundation. we're entering a rather extraordinary phase where most of the top leadership in the pentagon is going to be changing. secretary gates is going to be leaving, chairman of the joint chiefs mullen is going to be leaving, cartwright is going to be leaving or getting promoted depending on how you look at it. we're going to need a new navy chief and that might drive a change of the air force chief. let's talk a little bit about who the top candidates are to succeed gates at this point. >> the head of the cia. he's being -- he's been the obvious candidate for, what, a year and a half, and he's been energetically promoted by the
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white house for the last six weeks or so and he is logical in every possible way except that, you know, he's 73 on his next birthday. it's a grueling job. he's paced himself very carefully at the age of 73, three-day weekends. whether he's the man to run three wars which we now have, that's the question you hear people asking. >> but he has extra budget experience, he was chief of the chairman budget committee, o and b head and he has huge washington gravitas. >> i think that's important right now in the situation we're in with the defense budget being in flux so much to have someone who can go head to head with omb and not only protect their turf but work with omb to make the cuts needed. >> and bill lynn the former comptroller is secretary of defense and ash carter is a very strong acquisition chief. >> and it gives a president a liberal in the job which is important to the president's base right now. you know, you continue to see too many republicans in the job in democratic administrations
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and somebody with stat ur on capitol hill. >> and to replace panetta at the cia. >> that's where they want him to go. >> is that going to be a workable thing politically? >> it's not that he wants this, but he will be absolute in doing it. one of the calculations is that if general petraeus isn't going to be chairman, then the administration has reasonable access to keep him in uniform than in a stuffy room doing what rahm emanuel used to say. >> why not petreaus as chairman? >> i think two reasons, one is there's one general. i mean, the job of the chairman uniquely depends on who the president is comfortable with and although general petraeus has spent a great deal of face time with the president over the last couple of years, there is still an element of -- >> an independent streak and an ability to talk that he evidenced through the review
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that maybe they're not comfortable with? >> yes. look, ever since the chairman got the extended path under nichols, everyone has had in mind what general colin powell did with that power during the gulf war, first gulf war, and my review is they simply don't want a chairman that is that politically able, as politically able as general petraeus is. >> general petraeus talks, washington doesn't just listen, they listen and they start nodding. he has the ability to upstage everyone, including the white house. you stick him at the cia which is an important job, i'm not undermining it, but keep your head down, stay out of the public eye position so you're not out there shaping and influencing opinions. >> but also use your experience as a reviewer of intelligence. let's talk about general cartwright. he's somebody who's been trusted by the white house as bob woodward famously said as obama's favorite general, but he does have this investigation into a relationship that he had, but do you think that changes
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the dynamic and potentially makes him less of a candidate and if not, who else that's up? >> yes. washington is very unfair. as you say, general cartwright was cleared, but the clear presence it's going to make everybody antsy, so, yes, it will count against him. whether it will be fatal, i haven't the least idea. >> what are some of the other alternatives ray ode air no. >> odeirno is the one i have. >> and with general schwartz as his vice? >> yes because general schwartz is a very good organizer to run the committees they have to run. >> schwartz might actually end up being the chairman. i can see him as the candidate they would go to if they needed somebody. >> guys, thanks very much. that's all the time we have. coming up in my notebook, why cutting missions won't solve the oblems
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for years the pentagon has been accused of chronically underestimating the amount of its programs, making long-range planning difficult. after a year of review, frank kindle, the deputy chief has been put a number on that assertion. its 95 major programs will cost $64 billion more to realize than planned. it's a particularly necessary but inconvenient truth at a time when d.o.d. is girting for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts. to make the right cuts and thoughtful reforms, you need to know what things cost, especially when budgets are flat or declining. the question is whether the pentagon is really interested in reform. impending cuts must fuel politically-difficult reforms from pay and benefits to acquisition.
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instead, some in d.o.d. appear to suggest that they've got little choice at this point, but to dial back on global commitments just to make ends meet. that's nonsense. there's plenty to reform before we have to learn to live with only one carrier in the persian gulf, to keep from making that choice, we must first reengineer the department's fundamental cost structure and get rid of things that don't add to war-fighting capabilities. if we stay with the bloelted system we have replete with uniform bands, certificateon aiding diners at officers' homes, we'll run out of capabilities and programs to cut before we save anything. accurate cost projections are vital not only to make the appropriate cuts but also to engineer real reforms. thanks for joining us for "this week in defense news," i'm vago muradian. you can watch this program online at or e-mail me at i'll be back next week at the same time. until then, haoblems. xóp
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